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June Cartoon: How to Write a Consumer Advisory

What is a consumer advisory?

A consumer advisory is a statement about the risks of eating raw or undercooked menu items. If you serve any undercooked animal products at your establishment, the FDA requires you to publish a consumer advisory.

Undercooked animal products carry an increased risk of foodborne illness. Even rare steak and sushi, which are generally safe, can cause foodborne illness more often than steak and seafood that is fully cooked. Customers from highly susceptible populations (HSPs) are especially vulnerable to illness. HSPs include the elderly, pregnant women, toddlers, and people with compromised immune systems.

Most establishments put their consumer advisory on the menu, but it can be displayed in other ways too. For example, you could put the advisory on placards or table tents. If you work in a grocery store, you might want to include it on the food label or in the deli display case.

Which item requires a consumer advisory on the menu?

A consumer advisory is required when serving raw or undercooked animal products, including:

  1. Rare or medium-rare steak
  2. Uncooked types of sushi
  3. Raw eggs
  4. Unprocessed milk
  5. Undercooked chicken
  6. Undercooked seafood
  7. Undercooked pork
  8. Undercooked ground beef
  9. Undercooked lamb

Consumer advisory examples

When writing a consumer advisory, the first thing you should do is disclose when a menu item might be undercooked. For example, you could say “raw-egg Caesar salad” or “hamburgers (can be cooked to order).”

Then add an asterisk and include a footnote with your advisory statement. The 2017 FDA Food Code provides a few example statements:

  • “Regarding the safety of these items, written information is available upon request.”
  • “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.”
  • “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.”

Consumer advisories will help your customers make informed dining choices. They’ll also help protect you if someone becomes ill after eating an undercooked menu item at your establishment.

For more information about serving raw or undercooked animal products, take our food manager training.

Click here to download the June cartoon.

— Jessica Pettit

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